The Role of Wheat and Flour in Baking


In traditional baking, wheat flour is one of the most important ingredients. Bakers use wheat flour because it can do extremely well what flours made of other grains cannot: it builds a gluten network. Gluten is a mixture of proteins called glutenin and gliadin. Gluten is formed when these two proteins present in flour are mixed with water. Gluten is elastic and plastic, which is why a baker can stretch the dough easily without damaging or breaking it. Gluten and its structure are the reasons why dough can hold steam or expand air bubbles.

As with many other discoveries that played a major role in the development of the mankind, the discovery of wheat and baking was as much of an accident as it was intentional.

Worldwide, depending on the region, the dominant food grain is either wheat or rice. The exception is the United States, where corn is the largest cereal crop and wheat comes in second.

Wheat grows extremely well in a variety of climates. It is also easy to cultivate. Its crops consistently produce high yields.